As a movie freak and a political junkie, it was inevitable that I would have to see Davis Guggenheims’ latest documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Now like most people if you had asked me if I wanted to go see a documentary about Al Gore giving a PowerPoint presentation – a man reputed to be so dull his secret service codename was “Al Gore” - I might have said (yawn) no thanks, I need to go have a root canal done at an Amway convention. Fortunately I saw the trailer first, and so was intrigued.
The folks at Sundance and Cannes were intrigued too, where they treated Gore like a rock star and gave the film high honors. But the fact that Guggenheim took what sounds at first blush to be the height of boredom and transformed it into a nail-biter is not why you should see it. It’s not the medium, it’s the message.
By now most people know what the inconvenient truth of the title is. If you haven’t heard, one option you have is to wait a few years and you’ll know. Simply put, it’s this: global warming is real, it’s dangerous, and it’s our fault. There is no debate (or, what there was is over). Ask some scientists – the reputable ones who publish in peer-reviewed journals, not the ones whose paychecks come from petroleum companies – they ALL agree. And most of them can demonstrate that we will reach a tipping point, a point of no return, in just 10 years. In 50 years, well within my children’s lifetimes, the planet will very likely be completely uninhabitable.
But this is not a movie-to-slit-your-wrists-by kind of a message. Though portending horrible and tragic possibilities, the message is one of hope. There is something we can do, and since everything I know revolves around food, I have but the one way to look at it. So here are some food-related things you can do, in that wonderful “be the change you wish to see in the world” kind of way, to stem the tide (quite literally).
•Plant a garden. It doesn’t have to be big; in fact it can start as a window box. But plant it with food you will eat.
•Buy locally. Get your food from someplace nearby. Remember that the average food item in this country travels 1400 miles before it gets to your grocery store shelf. That’s a lot of gas and diesel being burned, which means a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. See the movie if you don’t know why that’s bad.
•Keep you fridge clean. It costs more and uses more energy to run a dirty fridge, so clean the coils and the shelves. Also, store food toward the bottom when you can’t keep it full.
•Careful with the dishwasher. Use the economy cycle and prop it open to air dry rather than using the heated drying system. You’ll save money too.
•Ride your bike to the farmers’ market. And everywhere else too, if you can.
•Don’t eat fast food. It is designed to be eaten in the car, and Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma will explain to you (among many other things) how a meal at McDonald’s uses 3.5 gallons of oil. Think about that next time you read that there have been “billions and billions served.”
Perhaps the most important thing you can do right now is see the movie, and take as man people with you as you can. Tell them all to tell everyone else. Then come election season, ask your candidates whether they saw it and if not why not? What are their opinions of the issue and what are they planning to do about it?
Meanwhile, what are you planning to do about it?